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Mary Gordon

  • It had occurred to me in high school that it did not make good sense for there to be only one possibility open to men. And when the Church ceased to be inevitable, it became for me irrelevant.

  • ... it is impossible to feel the equal of someone who's been awake longer than you.

  • That was Felicitas. Ask her to pour oil on troubled waters and she'd light a match.

  • She had always thought God was someone who was always amused, amused at her, but not only at her. God stood at the head of a table, not a wooden table, but something temporary, set up only for the occasion. Heaven was everyone delighted to see everyone, everyone dressed up. And God was the most delighted.

  • It is for shelter that we marry and make love.

  • What a mystery the heart is. The mind is simple by comparison.

  • ... we all of us deserve happiness or none of us does.

  • Once the children were in the house the air became more vivid and more heated; every object in the house grew more alive.

  • [On the immigrant-processing center at Ellis Island:] Waiting [is] the great vocation of the dispossessed.

    • Mary Gordon,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • Two things in the world you never regret: a swim in the ocean, the birth of a child.

    • Mary Gordon,
    • "The Dancing Party," Ms. ()
  • For the Irish, the present constantly butts up against the past in the form of a political reality that is at once utterly present and archaic.

  • ... the hasty generalization is one of the real pleasures of civilized discourse.

  • The Irish are masters at the language of concealment.

  • ... if none of the mothers let their sons go, wouldn't that stop things, wouldn't it always have?

  • The most courageous people in the world are the people who go on after their children have died.

  • She has lost her memory. Each sentence she speaks is in the present tense. She is letting the past slip from her hand, a fish into dark water.

    • Mary Gordon,
    • "My Mother Is Speaking From the Desert," in The New York Times Magazine ()

Mary Gordon, U.S. writer, literary critic


Full name: Mary Catherine Gordon.